Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Family Zoo Trip

Last weekend we went to the zoo. I was supposed to blog about this yesterday, but it was a little busy, so I'm going to skip the review this week and talk about the zoo instead.

It was Grig's birthday over the weekend, so we decided to go and visit the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake.

They are having a dinosaur exhibit right now, so we thought he'd really enjoy that.
He really did.

We had some pretty great experiences while we were there. It seemed like a lot of animals came out just as we walked up. 

We decided that since we still only have one kid, and he's still free, we might as well spend a little extra money and let him ride on the carousel and the train. The carousel was an interesting adventure. He was really excited about it when we were in line. Then, when it was our turn, he ran straight for the okapi and eagerly climbed on board. 

However, not even two seconds later, he suddenly turned into a sad, clingy mess. For some reason, he did NOT want to be on the carousel and he began to cry as I tried to convince him to sit on the animal. 
He screamed and cried until the ride started. As the carousel began to move, he sat very still, and slowly a smile crept over his tear-streaked face. The second time around, he began to wave to the crowd and by the end, he didn't want to get off and couldn't stop talking about how he "rode it." Luckily, we caught the whole trip on video.

Another funny experience was when we were looking at different dinosaurs. He loved the tyrannosaurus rex.
 The dinosaurs were animatronics. They moved, and one of them even spit water. That one, for some reason, terrified Kevin. He did not even want to look at it. He thought it was scary! However, as we walked away, he couldn't stop talking about it. He really had a love/hate relationship with it. Every time we came near it, he grew excited, but as soon as we got too close, he became frightened. Unfortunately, we didn't get any video of that for some reason. 
The third funny experience was when we met an old friend from a couple of years (2013) ago. I don't know if you remember this from our video Lion Spit and Otter Friends, but here is a picture to remind you:
 As soon as Kevin saw this otter, he ran up to it and gave it a hug. Here he is with his otter friend now.
Wow, he sure has grown! 

The best part came later. Kevin was running through a hollow log, when a bunch of kids walked up and began to play with the otter statue. With concern on his face, Kevin ran toward them and watched them in horror. Then he turned around and said, "My otter!"

It was really cute, and it made us laugh. Sometimes it's hard to share. 

We saw quite a few cute animals. This ape made us laugh. He kept pulling his lip up with the fence. 
 This sand cat was super cute too. I don't know if you can get much cuter than this.
I think it's traditional to take a picture drinking out of this lion, so we made sure we got pictures of all of us. 
Unfortunately, the water was pretty nasty. Kevin sure enjoyed drinking out of the lion's mouth though.

Kevin loved the train ride too. He sure enjoyed finally seeing some lions (that you couldn't see from the front of the enclosure). He also liked closer views of the giraffes and zebras. They also take you back into this 'old western' area that has tee-pees, log cabins, horses, and a bunch of other stuff. He loved the train. 
 He enjoyed digging up dinosaur bones with his dad. He also chastized a cousin of the ankylosaurus for trying to eat him. We kept telling him it was a plant-eater, but he insisted on shaking his finger at it and saying, "Bad dinosaur. Don't eat Kevin."

We laughed pretty hard about that too.

He also was confused when his mother pretended that polar bear cubs were eating her.
We had a great time, and it was really fun to spend time together as a family. Kevin loved the dinosaurs and the animals. He kept pulling on our hands and saying, "Let's go!" as we'd run from one to the next. 

Just before we left, we stopped by the wolf enclosure to see if we could spot one. The big white male was fully visible. 

He sure is beautiful. He thought about howling for us too as sirens wailed in the distance, but changed his mind. Then more people came, and he skedaddled. It was fun to get a good look at him though. 

As a family outing, it was a success, and our marriage is stronger than ever!

Monday, July 27, 2015

MM: Obedience

I've been thinking about obedience lately.

I feel like at one point, obedience was a positive thing. Now, when people hear the word obedience, it seems to spark negative emotions, even in my own mind.

When I thought about obedience the other night, immediately thoughts like, "I don't want people to tell me what to do," "I'm my own person," and "I don't want to follow 'the man'" (I've been watching too much Kim Possible lately) came into my mind.

I was kind of surprised, because I thought I knew how important obedience was.

I read something interesting the other day about teaching our children to be obedient. It said something that said, "If we don't teach the importance of obedience in the home, how will our children understand it in school, in the workplace, or in their relationship to God?"

It really made me think. We're trying to teach Kevin to be obedient, and sometimes it's difficult. The language barrier can be difficult at times. However, we're trying and he often does what we ask him to do.

I was discussing this with Grig, and how important I feel that obedience is, and he said that it reminded him of The Jungle Book (the book, not the movie).

In the story, Akela, the leader of the wolf pack, has long led the wolves and taught them the law of the jungle. As he ages and grows weaker, Shere Khan infiltrates the pack and begins to lead the young wolves astray. He teaches them to break the laws and hold them in contempt.

Grig commented on how the pack was unified and safe while they followed and obeyed the laws, but once the youth became disobedient, the pack structure fell apart, and they became less than wolves. At that point, they stopped being the "Free People," and became subject to the will of Mowgli, who was stronger than them.

I thought that was a great allegory.

Obedience is so important in the Lord's work. If we obey a commandment that He gives us, He promises us certain blessings, and God cannot lie. The timing is His, but the blessings will come. Obedience is being willing to do another's will. God can do anything, but He will not force us to follow Him.

When any law is established, man-made or otherwise, there are certain consequences that go with that law. Breaking the law (or commandment) brings consequences. We all have the freedom to choose if we will obey the law, but we do not have the freedom to choose our consequence. There are set penalties for certain laws, and most often, they are not negotiable.

For some reason, obedience has become a curse word. No one wants others to think they are 'obedient.' Inwardly we say, "But I want my children to be free-thinkers. I don't want them held within the bounds of society!"

I had never realized it before, but isn't that a terrible thing to say? The laws and rules of society keep us safe and protect the rights of those around us. As our own desires become more important that the desires of society and the good of society, we begin to hold the laws of the land in contempt, and like the pack of Akela, our order and structure begins to crumble.

Even if you don't believe in God, laws are important. They are the things that keep us safe, for without laws, there are no consequences, whether good or bad. In 2 Nephi 2:13 it says:
 13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.
I know that obedience is important. We are doing our best to teach Kevin obedience to us, and to the Lord's laws.

My own father taught me an important lesson when I was young. I was doing my driving time to earn my driver's license and I was going 5 above the speed limit. When he asked me why I was driving that fast, I said something like, "Everyone goes that fast, it's okay."

He then told me that it wasn't okay to break the law, even by just a little bit. For some reason, that really stuck with me, and I have tried to do my best to keep the speed limit with exactness. (Sometimes, I'm not paying attention, and it climbs, but I do my best.)

Yes, I'm the annoying person who goes exactly the speed-limit. I've been pulled over for other things, but I've never gotten a ticket. I know this is a blessing because I am doing my best to follow the laws of the land.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Article of Faith 1:12)
We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
Our church does not promote rebellion to laws. Instead, it teaches us to do our best to keep the laws in whatever country we may find ourselves. By our example of obedience, we have been able to touch many more hearts that if we were rebelling and fighting our leaders.

I'm definitely not perfect, but I do my best to be obedient to the laws and commandments I know. I tried to be an obedient student, an obedient employee, and an obedient daughter. Sometimes I succeeded better than other times (especially in the daughter role). However, I do have a testimony of the blessings of obedience. Obedience is not a bad thing. It is a blessing, and one that we should delight in.

How else can we show the Lord that we love Him and how dedicated we are to Him?
Link to Site where I got this picture

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How to Avoid Scams When Selling (or Buying) Things Online

Recently, I've been trying to sell a couple things on Craigslist and KSL.

One thing that I've learned when shopping online (except on Amazon and other legitimate businesses) is that 9/10 people (statistic made up on the spot, and only from my own personal experience) that contact you about your items are scammers.

I found the same experience when we were looking for an apartment online. A large number is the houses for rent are from scammers.

I wanted to share somethings that I have learned about scammers through my experience. Hopefully this will help some of you when you are trying to sell your own items online.

1) Only accept cash

This alone will get rid of most of the scammers. If they have to actually come to meet you in person, they are going to stop contacting you. This will also keep you from giving your full name, address, and zip code to people. You don't want to be giving that information out to just anyone.

2) Don't mail the item, only accept home pick-up and make sure someone else is there when they come to get the item. 

There may be some legitimate people who want you to mail something to them, but I have yet to meet one. Their stories can sound sincere, but again, they just want your information.

Be cautious. There have been some murders associated with items on Craigslist and the like. Always have someone with you, and it may not hurt to be armed as well.

3) If a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is. 

This one works for both sellers and buyers. If you're selling an item for $350, and someone tells you, (and I quote from a recent text I received)
Alright am willing to offer u $360 for item and additional $100 including shipping fee what the size
then be suspicious. People don't like to give more money than something is worth. If they are offering more money, don't accept the offer. It is a scam. I haven't found out of what sort yet, because I tell them I only accept cash and home delivery. They never contact me again.

The other way this works is if people are offering to rent a house well below the market average. Even if the house if for rent, and you drive past it, don't assume that the people online are the owners. I contacted one person about a home for rent, and they sent me an e-mail telling me that they, along with the house key, were in Africa. They needed me to fill out an application sheet and then, if I was approved, they would send the key after I paid a deposit.


So, playing along, I said, "Do you have anyone in the area that can confirm that you are really in Africa? I don't want to get scammed."

To which they replied, "Congratulations! You've been approved. Please send the money..." blah, blah, blah. Yeah, that's gonna happen.

4) If someone texts you with really bad English, be cautious. 

I didn't write this to be racist. Some very honest people don't speak English very well, and that's okay. However, the majority of the scammers who have contacted me have not typed very coherent sentences. It's a good warning sign. Pay attention to it.

5) Try to talk to the people before you meet in person.

If you can, ask to talk to the people over the phone instead of just via text. You can get a better feel from someone from the sound of their voice than the way they text.

6) Trust your gut.

If you feel bad about meeting the person, or making the deal, don't do it. Just tell them that something better came up (like your life). Instinct (or divine interference, whatever you want to believe) is usually right. Don't take unnecessary risks. 

I think that pretty much covers it.

I don't want to make anyone afraid to ever sell anything online. We have had some good experiences with it. However, I do want to make people aware that some people do nothing but contact ads all day and try to get money and information from them.

If you're wise with how you deal with people who contact you, you will begin to be able to recognize scammers right away. In some ways, if you have a Facebook classified group, where it's more private and more likely filled with real people, try to sell more things on there. Ebay and Amazon are also pretty good alternatives, though you may have to ship things from there.

Your money and privacy will thank you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review Wednesday: Life Is Beautiful (La vita è bella)

Title: Life Is Beautiful (La vita è bella)
Directed by: Roberto Benigni
Rating: PG-13
Release Year: 1997

Life Is Beautiful
Link to Movie
I've been studying a lot about the Holocaust lately, and that made me want to watch this movie again, so I did. Afterward, I decided that instead of a book review, I would do my first movie review. 

This is my second (possibly third) time watching this movie. It's been long enough that I really only remembered the end of it, and so I was surprised to find out that it was considered a tragicomedy (their word, not mine). A large part of it is a comedy.

Life is Beautiful is an Italian film, and thus is entirely in Italian. Personally, I think that only makes it better. With subtitles I understood it fine and it makes it feel much more realistic to me. The plot centers on a young man named Guido Orefice who is a Jewish Italian book keeper. 

He was a pretty likable character, who falls in love with a woman that he doesn't realize is engaged to someone else. In his innocent and goofy way, he charms her and (in what I would consider an almost stalker-ish way) continually is showing up where she's not expecting him. She is pretty unhappy with her engagement though, and this giddy young man eventually sweeps her off her feet and into marriage with him. 

Jump forward to five years, and the Germans have entered Italy. They now have a son named Joshua, and they are continually harassed by others because of Guido's race. His wife, who is not Jewish, stands by her husband, and they seem to be pretty happily married. 

Then, the Jews are taken away to a concentration camp. His wife, Dora, refuses to be left behind and board the train with her husband and son. Their five-year-old son, Joshua is confused at the events, and his cheerful father does his best to turn everything into a game so his son can keep his innocence. He tells him that they are in a contest, and every day they win points. At the end of the game, the winner gets a real tank (Joshua's favorite thing). 

I'll try not to spoil anything, but I will say that I highly recommend this film. The beginning was okay, but it wasn't really the kind of movie that I enjoy that much. It was more like a romantic comedy. However, once the Nazis entered the movie, it became much more intense. 

Even while Joshua was shielded from what was actually happening, it was very apparent to me (the audience) some of the atrocities that were being committed. At one point, Joshua is told by someone that the prisoners are made into buttons and soap and cooked inside giant ovens. As Guido does his best to convince his son that they are simply trying to get him to quit so that they can win the game, he makes fun of the concept of turning people in buttons and cooking them in ovens. It was a little painful for me to watch, because it was really happening, and in this one case, his light-hearted humor seemed almost disrespectful. However, because it was for his son's sake, it actually seemed a perfect mockery of how ludicrous the Nazi's actions really were. Why would people turn other people into soap?

The character of Guido was hard for me at first (before he married his wife). He is an interesting guy, and not always entirely honest, which I didn't really like. His spontaneous ways of meeting his wife were more awkward than funny to me sometimes, but I'm going to peg the fact that I didn't find everything he did funny on my own misunderstanding of their culture. I think I just didn't understand some of the humor, which is fine. Often he was quite funny to me. At the end, he is a heroic, still goofy figure, and I did end up crying.

There are a few scenes that are especially poignant for me. One was where Guido is talking to a German doctor that he knew before the camp and expecting aid. Instead the man gives him a riddle and talks about how he can't sleep until he solves it. As he says this, there is stark pain on his face and tears in his eyes. I think that was meant to show how much his job at the camp was actually bothering him. It wasn't the riddle at all. 

The other scene that I've been thinking about a lot, is how the Nazis came to get Guido and Joshua while Dora was fetching her mother, who hadn't spoken to them in the last five years. I wonder if the mother was just trying to get her daughter out of the way so she wouldn't fight the guards who came. If that's the case, I don't like the mother very much either. 

Tell me your thoughts on these two scenes, please. I'd love to hear your interpretation. 

The movie is fairly non-graphic considering the material that it is based on. You didn't actually see anyone die, though deaths are heavily implied. There is one moment where corpses (or bones) are seen through a fog, but it's hard to distinguish what they actually are. 

There is no sexual content either, though Guido does tell Dora that he wants to make love to her during one of their courting scenes. (That was another awkward scene for me. If someone had said that to me, I wouldn't have been flattered, I would have been kind of creeped out. I think it was supposed to be romantic though.) The actor/director does a great job, and you can see how frightened and tired he is as he tries to get his son through the concentration camp.

The boy is a great little actor, and his honest delight at times is hard not to smile at. The actress who plays Dora also does a great job. 

Honestly, I loved this movie, and I loved how you got to know what the people were like before they entered the camp. The ending was beautiful and sad at the same time, and a little bit hard to watch. If you're looking for a great movie about the Holocaust, this is one of my favorites. 

Parental guide: 

For movie guides, I may just link you to the IMDB Parental Guide:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Our Current Project

Late last week, on Saturday, Grig and I were outside working on the yard.

We began to plan the layout we wanted, and in the process started talking about the hot tub.

See, here's the deal. Technically we weren't supposed to have the hot tub. It wasn't in the contract when we bought the house, and we kept expecting the old owners to remove it before we bought it. However, every time we asked, they never said anything and (since they live in Texas) it may have been too much of a hassle to come and haul it away.

So, we ended up with a hot tub.

We had toyed with the idea of cleaning it out and using it as a swimming pool. We couldn't afford actual hot tub maintenance, and we didn't even know where to begin. However, after talking about it, we decided to get rid of it. We decided it would just look tacky as a swimming pool, and it would also be a potential place of drowning. We didn't really want any money for it, we just wanted it gone.

So, following this conversation, I put an ad up on KSL, Craigslist, and some facebook classified pages, offering a free hot tub. We tried to be very honest about the shape it was in. Here is the picture we used:
It obviously needs to be cleaned out, but we don't have any clue when it last was used. The tub itself is in good shape, and with a little love, it could be a great hot tub.

It didn't even take and hour before we started getting texts and facebook comments. A couple of people lost interest after they saw the picture (I forgot to upload it to KSL the first time) and one young man came by that we never heard from again.

Sunday night (when I don't deal in business transactions), I had two people on facebook fighting to come and take it away. I waited to respond until Monday, when I gave them my cell phone and told them to text me.

I didn't hear from anyone for a while, but I started feeling like maybe I should get it ready to go, just in case. This is what it looked like before:
The wood around it doesn't look too bad in this picture, but it was really dangerous inside. It was pretty soggy and rotten and I feared for my life every time I entered.

Thinking that Grig wasn't going to be home for a while (he was supposed to go apply to some jobs after work), Kevin and I began to dismantle it.
I would steady his aim, and he would push the button on the drill. He did pretty great, and we were having a good time, when Grig suddenly appeared. I asked him why he was home so early, and he looked confused. Then, when I mentioned the job application, he went, "Oh, no! I completely forgot."

He was going to go shower quick and then we were all going to go with him so we could spend more time as a family. However, instead we ended up dismantling the wood the rest of the way. It went a lot faster with his help.

Once we'd removed all the wood, we found that there was a ton of insulation under the hot tub. We were going to leave it, but then we remembered that we have a one-year-old dog. If we had left it, he would have had it all over the yard before we could say "lickety-split." I don't know why we'd say that though.

Anyway, so then we raked up all the insulation and filled three black garbage bags full.

Grig was kind and let me shower first, since I was now covered in insulation dust. Then, he showered. By this time, it was too late to apply for the jobs, and I suddenly got a text on my phone.

It was the woman from facebook. She was asking if they could come and see the hot tub right then. We told her, "Sure."

She, her husband, and two adorable kids came to look at it. This is what it looked like when they got here:

They agreed that they wanted it, and were pleased to find out that they weren't going to have to dismantle the wood. I had been praying that whoever came would know how to remove the hot tub itself (it had pipes through the walls into the garage), and the husband told us that his brother would come to help who had experience removing hot tubs.

I felt like things worked out just the way they were supposed to. If Grig hadn't come home early, we wouldn't have finished clearing away the wood in time.

It already looks a lot better, and I can't wait to see what it looks like when the hot tub is completely gone. We're planning on putting a dog kennel where it is sitting right now. We'll see how that goes.

Projects are fun!

Monday, July 20, 2015

MM: The Good You Do

Yesterday, we watched a video produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's called "You Never Know How Much Good You Do."

Here's the video if you'd like to watch it. I highly recommend it.

A lot of times, we try our best to organize our time with good things. Then, something unexpected happens, and your whole day's plans are messed up.

I am trying a new way to schedule my time. In the mornings, after I make Kevin breakfast, I read my scriptures. Then, I plan out my day by writing down the things I was trying to get done. Once I write down my list, I then designate chunks of time to the specific things. I finish by praying that the plan I have made is acceptable to the Lord.

Last week, I managed to do this Monday-Thursday. At night, when I said my evening prayers, I would report back to the Lord on how I did each day. I don't know if I've every felt better about how I used my time. Friday and Saturday, I didn't do quite as well, but I'm trying again this week.

The funny thing, is I was also praying for opportunities to serve someone else, and I definitely had those prayers answered. Nearly every day I had some unexpected opportunity to help someone.

They weren't huge acts of service, and sometimes it ended up changing my entire schedule, but I was still able to get everything on my list done.

I think that we often have a list of things to get done, and if we don't finish it, we feel like failures. However, when we accomplish the list that the Lord has for us, then it doesn't matter if we finish our own list.

I loved this video, because it really showed the consequences of her choices and how much she'd really helped other people.

We don't always know the good that we can do, but the Lord does. The Lord knows what He wants us to accomplish each day and who he wants us to help. If we listen and act upon those opportunities, we will be led and guided to where we can do the most good.

You never know what blessings your tiny acts of service can bring to yourself and to others.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Events of Some Magnitude

Last week, my husband cut my hair.

It was getting obnoxiously long. When I would lay down in bed, it would get caught under my armpits, and I would be stuck.
So, after months of not getting a haircut, I finally asked my husband to cut it for me. He was a bit scared. He'd never cut hair before, but I was sure he'd do a good job. He let me learn how to cut hair on his head, so I thought it was only fair that he should learn to cut hair with me.

They watched a short youtube video, and then with my mother coaching, Grig cute my hair.

He did a great job. I am very happy with my shorter hair.

I love this guy.
The other crazy thing that has happened this week is that Grig found out this his job is closing. The plant is going to remain open until the end of October, so he has some time to look for work, but it is a little scary. 

When he told me, however, I didn't feel any worry at all. I just felt peace and a sense of excitement. We'd been praying for a while to ask if Grig should be looking for a different job. We felt like this was the answer. 

We don't know what the next few months will hold, but we know the Lord iwll take care of our family. We appreciate the prayers in our behalf, and are so grateful for those who have been willing to do so.

The other momentous thing that happened this week was that our puppy turned 1!
Happy birthday, Arkhon!
We were going to have a party with him and his brother, but Loki's (Arkhon's brother) owners ended up having company at their house and couldn't come. We were sad, but didn't let that deter us. 

I ended up walking into town to obtain the ingredients we needed. By the end of the walk, Kevin and I had traveled over five miles! That's pretty impressive for me.

Once we got home, we baked Arkhon a cake. We were watching my friend's kids, so they helped me bake it.
Here's the cake without all the frosting on. It was shaped like a dog.
I have a recipe for homemade dog treats. We mixed all the ingredients together, and then I shaped it into a dog shape.

Then, we put a can of canned dog food on top for frosting. It made it look pretty disgusting, but the dogs liked licking the "frosting" off of my fingers.
Here's the cake with the frosting and the dog bone candle.
 Then we placed a bone on top and inserted a candle into the bone. I think it looked pretty awesome when it was done.
We also made a peanut butter bar cookie cake for the rest of us to eat, since we didn't actually want to eat the dog's cake.

Once everything was ready, we lit the candle and sang "Happy Birthday." Arkhon got to sit at the table for the first time in his life while we sang, and then Kevin blew out the candle for him.

He was very good about leaving it alone until we gave it to him.
The dogs really enjoyed the cake. Then we gave Arkhon a couple of presents, mostly from the dollar store.

Really, I decided you shouldn't buy any dogs treats from anywhere besides the dollar store. We got a whole box of treats for a dollar. That made me pretty happy. 

Arkhon had fun. It's crazy that he's a year old now. We haven't had him for a year yet, but he's turning into a great dog. He listens super well, and he has very few issues. Mostly, he still jumps when he's excited, and he will occasionally whine when we leave him behind. 

He doesn't have accidents in the house anymore either! We figured out that if we ignore him when he's excited until he calms down, and then make him lay down before we pet him, then his jumping is becoming less. I think he's figuring out finally what we want. He and Kevin are best friends. They chase each other around the living room, and he never even nips Kevin. 

Kevin's getting better at being gentle as well. 

Aside from the news about Grig's job, things are going pretty well. Please pray for us. We feel as though this is supposed to happen and that the next opportunity that Grig gets will be good for our family, but we also know the power of prayer and would be grateful for any extra faith on our behalf. 

Thank you again!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

BRW: The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch

The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch
Author: Joseph Delaney
Length: 384 pages
(My) Rating: G

Check our the book here
This book was recommended to me by my little brother. 

Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son. In Delaney's universe, this makes him capable of becoming a spook. Spooks are people who protect normal people from the dead and magical. 

Thomas Ward is apprenticed to the Spook and leaves his parents and oldest brother and his brother's expecting wife. He has no desire to go, but his mother is insistent and tells him that the main reason she married his father, a seventh son, and gave birth to the six brothers before him, was so that he could be born. 

Thomas can see the dead and he is frightened of them. The Spook challenges him to counter his fear and gives him very specific instructions. When Thom obeys, he is protected. 

However, he is young and bound to make mistakes. He really should have told his Master about talking to the girl with the pointed shoes....

Thomas faces many different challenges and accidentally puts his family in very real danger. He really begins to learn why Spooks live alone.

I really enjoyed this book. Though it was written for a younger audience, the plot was unique, and their classifications of different kind of ghosts and other supernatural things was interesting. I could tell that there was something different about his mother, but the author hasn't chosen to reveal what that is yet. 

The beginning was a bit slow to start, but after he joined the Spook it really picked up. 

My dad and brother told me that they'd made the book into a movie (kind of) called Seventh Son, but it was so different that there really wasn't much of a comparison. However, if they HAD made an accurate movie, it would have been pretty creepy, Some of the scenes could be downright frightening if I had read it at night. 

I didn't have many complaints. It was an enjoyable, quick read. I would recommend it for any age. 

Parental Guide

There was really nothing to be worried about in this book. I don't remember any swearing, and there was very little actual violence. The creep factor is fairly high, and dead things are discussed frequently. There is a final scene with some pigs that is somewhat disturbing, but very non-descriptive. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bounteous Harvest

Before we left, Kevin and I also picked some of our pie cherries. We found quite a few of them. 
Kevin ate many of them raw, we froze a few, and gave some away. 

After returning from working in Idaho, we found our garden overflowing.

It rained nearly every day we were gone, which made our plants really shoot up. The tomato plant we have has really exploded (in a good way).

So, yesterday, Kevin and I went out to pick some vegetables.

We were pleased to find that we had quite a few pea pods that were ripe for the pickin'. The lettuce harvest was also quite large.

We picked peas and cut off lettuce, and then we came inside to wash them.

The lettuce, after it was washed and the bad pieces cut off, filled four bread bags.
The peas didn't give us nearly as much, but Kevin sure enjoyed pulling them out of their pods, and I sure enjoyed eating them. Next to corn on the cob, fresh peas are my favorite thing from the garden.

They're pretty much gone today, but we still have plenty of lettuce. Luckily we have a few friends who are happy to take some bags off of our hands. We can't eat that much lettuce! 

We used a five leaf blend, so it's a good assortment of lettuce in our bags. 

We've been super blessed. I'm pretty excited that our garden is doing so well. We look forward to eating more fresh vegetables over the next few months.

Monday, July 13, 2015

MM: Tithing and a Family Reunion

I mentioned in my last blog entry that we were pretty stressed about money, but that we had faith and paid our tithing to the Lord. I forgot to mention that Grig's employment offers unemployment on weeks off. We thought we were going to get an unemployment check from a previous week off, but when Grig went in to talk to them, they told him that he wasn’t going to get that money after all. They said you had to have an unpaid week (which we had already had) and then, if you had another week of unemployment in the same quarter, you would get paid for it. However, they said that the last week was in a different quarter and we wouldn’t be paid for it. That was very frustrating. We felt like the job opportunity was the answer to that, and we'd be able to pay our bills after all. We felt exceedingly blessed and felt that this was the answer to our prayers.

A week and a half ago, we went to go on my mother's family reunion. We were going to carpool, but then Grig got work off on Thursday too, and he got home too late to drive with those we were going to carpool with. So, some kind family members gave us some gas money. That was our second blessing of tithing.

The reunion was a lot of fun, and I had the opportunity to write a Reader’s Theater for it.

It went really well, and all my actors did a great job. That was one of my highlights of the reunion.

Another point was when all 60 of us were singing together. That was really nice. The harmonies were awesome, and the Spirit was really strong. I’m so grateful I was able to go to the reunion. There was animal taxidermy everywhere, and the kids really enjoyed looking at those.
Kevin on a moose (statue).

We had a couple funny stories. The first night we arrived, we were told that we were sleeping upstairs with Amy and Ryan. When we got upstairs we were a bit confused. There were two couches, a television, and two twin beds. They may have even had slightly less width than twin beds. They were pretty small. Grig and I looked around, and decided that we were supposed to use one of the twin beds. That night, all three of us, including Kevin, slept on the tiny bed. It was a tight squeeze, and the whole night my arm dangled off the side. We slept alright, though the next morning my arm was numb.
The view of the lake from our cabin

When we went down for breakfast, we talked to everyone for a while, and then we were talking about how we slept. We were trying not to complain, because we were glad to have a bed at all, but it came out that we’d been really squished all night. Then someone asked about the hide-away beds.

Confused, I didn’t know what they were talking about. It was then revealed that the couches each had a queen-sized hide-away bed inside. We’d slept on the twin beds for no good reason!

It was pretty funny.

The next funny thing that happened was at Bear Lake. Kevin had been pretty happy until we took him into deeper water, then he got cold and grumpy. After cuddling for a while, he allowed me to bury him in sand up to his neck. He was pretty happy, until I spotted something.

Kevin and friends
There was a large spider on top of the sand on his leg. It had at least an inch long body, and was huge! I pointed it out to Kevin. Usually he loves spiders and cries when we leave them, so I was expecting a positive reaction.

Unfortunately, at the moment that Kevin spotted the spider, it took off running toward his face! He screamed and exploded out of the sand.

He was sad for a while after that, and then he recovered and played in the water again. By the end, he didn’t want to leave.

On the last full day, we went on a hike. Grig and I ended up far behind everyone else.
Grig took this picture. Neat, right?

Family pic
As we neared the end of our walk, we heard a very distinctive sound. Happily, we soon spotted a nearby raven. Grig loves ravens, and that made the whole hike worth it for him.

We had a great time at the reunion, and it was kind of sad to leave.

We got home from the reunion, and checked our mail as we packed to leave the next day for work in Idaho. To our surprise, we found two checks in the mail from Grig’s parents. Here was the third blessing from tithing. They told Grig that they had felt impressed to send the money.

Then, when we went to look at our bank account, we found that there was another large sum of money that had been put into our checking. We didn’t know what it was from, but when we looked it up, we saw that it was the unemployment check that they told Grig he wouldn’t be receiving. The fourth blessing of tithing.

When all was said and done, we not only had enough for all of our bills, but we were going to be building back up our savings by the end of the month. That was a huge blessing. Tithing works, and it is amazing. Indeed it is as the Lord said in Malachi 3:10:
 10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 
We worked all week in Idaho, and had a great time working with family and we're grateful that they were kind enough to pay us for our efforts. I have a testimony of tithing, and I'm so grateful for the blessings that we were given.